Showbiz Commentary: Heidi Oringer

If I were to get holiday gifts as nondescript and boring as what Hollywood offered in the way of movies this year, I might not want to celebrate any more.

There was hardly anything worth remembering entertainment-wise, so most reporters were stuck documenting the dismal behavior of the Hollywood element — the substance abuse problems of Ben Affleck and Paula Poundstone, the meltdown of the melodious Mariah Carey, and, of course, Sean "Puffy" Combs prevailing despite major legal wranglings.

Then came Sept. 11, and nothing could seem less significant than celebrity peccadilloes.

Media and celebrity bigwigs alike put aside their backstabbing ways long enough to raise hundreds of millions of dollars for charity and create some memorable music. Indeed, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks changed the world in many significant ways. But they also covered up the fact that there was really very little worth remembering for the movie-going, TV-watching, music-listening public.

I agonized over how to come up with 10 truly significant things that took place this year in the world of entertainment. Some things immediately jumped out — Shrek and Harry Potter on the silver screen, the groundbreaking 24 on the small screen.

The end result: it took me longer to find 10 things than it did for me to gain 10 pounds eating bonbons and Chex Mix while Google searching. Of course, my idea of significant may not be yours, and these events are in no particular order, but here goes:

Top 10 Entertainment Stories

1. A Tribute to Heroes — All major television networks and most cable channels, for the first time ever, simulcast a show. Some 60 million people watched this commercial-free, two-hour telethon, helping to raise $150 million for the families of victims of the Sept. 11 tragedies. The cast included George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Will Smith, Billy Joel, Elton John and many others, plus a star-packed group manning the phones. And this was just the foremost in countless tributes.

2. Pottermania — Harry Potter got on his magic broom and made movie history, taking in an estimated $93 million in its first weekend. It heads into 2002 destined to become perhaps the highest-grossing film of all time. Director Chris Columbus has already started the sequel, set for a November 2002 release. After that, he's on board for two more.

3. Soderbergh's Big Score at the Oscars — Steven Soderbergh became the first director to have two films simultaneously nominated in the Best Picture category. He won the director's award for Traffic. Julia Roberts won for Best Actress in Soderbergh's other nominated film, Erin Brockovich. In other Academy Awards news, Gladiator won for Best Picture. Jennifer Lopez got lots of notice again, not for her acting, but for what she wore to the festivities. She was considered nearly naked, but this time, only on top. Meanwhile, Bjork was more than adequately covered in feathers as she sported a swan dress with an egg purse.

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